Google Chrome is testing a new ‘search term chip’ in its tab switcher interface

Sometime back in November 2019, Chrome began testing a new tab switcher interface. It had a grid layout, the logo of Google and the incognito toggle, Google Search bar, shortcuts to the frequently visited sites, and some article suggestions below.

At that time, Google brought it on the latest Chrome Dev and Canary channels, and it seemed to get the status of a default layout. It was crowder, jampacked with many icons, bars, toggles, but it would mash all the elements together and Chrome hoped that it was better than the previous large tab cards as it had a smaller grid layout. So, it was thought to be more organized and with more information that can be seen in one go.

After several changes, the latest update regarding this tab switcher interface is that Google Chrome is adding a search chip that will bring the trending search terms at the forefront, rather than in the site shortcuts or suggested articles. All the rest of the features in the layout and interface seem to remain unchanged.

Currently, this interface can only be activated server-side for the users who have downloaded the Chrome Beta, Dev, or Canary versions. But there is a flag for this interface that can be enabled and you can see what this interface is like.

All you need to do is to go to chrome://flags and search for the Tab Grid Layout or #enable-tab-grid-layout flag. Beware, there are multiple variants of this interface available. All of them have different tab thumbnail aspect ratios. You have to look for the one that has the Search term chip option. If you go to the settings, you might be able to find various things like Enabled New Tab Variation, Enabled New Tab Tile, several options for different aspect ratios, the option to Disable, simple ignore then, and look for the option to Enable Search Term Chip.

Screenshot: AP.

Once, you enable this search term chip, you will have to restart Chrome, and then when you will re-open, you will find the tab switcher interface with the grid layout. This is only for Chrome Canary. Other versions of Chrome may have different flag options.

The web page layout with this new update is that the Google logo is at the top, and underneath it is the Search bar. Below the search bar comes different trending search terms, and once you tap on any one of the suggestion chips, a new tab opens with this search already executed. It is similar to what the ‘query tiles’ were like that were being tested by Chrome earlier this year, but they are much simpler. These are simple text-only chips that do not provide searches or search suggestions into broader categories. Rather, they are focused and timely.

The incognito toggle that used to be present right next to the Google logo is now invisible by default but appears only when you open an incognito tab.

The problem with these search term chips is there is no personalization. The suggestions remain the same for everyone and even after multiple browsing and searching sessions. Ideally, these suggestions should become more relevant based on the terms that the user is using in their searches and browsing. So, for the time being, this interface does not have much significance as such. Let us wait for more changes that Chrome might bring in this development.

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